It's about time that the Tampa Bay Rays got some good pitching news. The team has lost excellent young starters Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly to season-ending arm injuries, with Cobb undergoing Tommy John surgery and Smyly almost certain to join him. That's a shame. But the Rays have their closer for the first time this season as the club has activated Jake McGee off the DL. The lefty was excellent last season -- the Rays always unearth these kinds of guys -- with a 5-2 record, 19 saves and 1.89 ERA. Only one lefty reliever had more strikeouts than McGee (90).
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Rays at Twins (-112, 8.5)
That's not to say it will be McGee out there in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday if the Rays have the lead. He may have been Wally Pipped. Manger Kevin Cash, who has done a great job, said that McGee automatically won't get his job back. Entering Friday, Brad Boxberger had 10 saves and a 1.29 ERA. Boxberger is one of only five pitchers in the AL who has saved at least 10 games without blowing one. No reason to pull him from that. Alex Colome (2-1, 5.63) gets the start for Tampa in this matinee. He was destroyed in his last outing, allowing eight runs and 11 hits (four homers) against the Yankees in his first road start. He has never faced the Twins. Minnesota's Trevor May (2-3, 5.40) also comes off a terrible outing, allowing six runs and nine hits over four innings in Cleveland. He has never faced the Rays.
Key trends: The Rays are 4-0 in Colome's past four on the road. The Twins are 1-7 in Mays' past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" has gone over in seven of Mays' past eight at home.
Early lean: Rays and over.
Braves at Marlins (-146, 7.5)
This is your first betting action of the day with a 1 p.m. start. Atlanta has lost outfielder Kelly Johnson, the team's cleanup hitter, to the 15-day DL with strained right oblique that usually means more than 15 days. He's hitting .259 with six homers and 18 RBIs for a very offensively-challenged team. Lefty Alex Wood (1-2, 4.28) has been a disappointment for Atlanta. The Braves have lost his past six starts overall. He opened the season in Miami and allowed two runs and four hits over five innings. Christian Yelich is a .409 hitter off him in 22 at-bats. Giancarlo Stanton is only 2-for-16 with four strikeouts. Mat Latos (1-3, 4.72) is starting to look like himself. He has allowed just two runs over 13.1 innings his past two starts. Latos has a 17.36 ERA in two starts (just 4.2 innings) vs. Atlanta this season. Freddie Freeman really kills him, going 10-for-18 with four doubles and seven RBIs.
Key trends: The Braves are 0-5 in Wood's past five vs. teams with a losing record. Miami is 5-0 in its past five vs. a lefty. The over has hit in five of Wood's past seven overall.
Early lean: Marlins and under but a Freeman hitting prop.
Diamondbacks at Phillies (-105, 8)
Two pretty bad teams here, but at least Arizona has a foundation piece in young pitcher Archie Bradley (2-0, 1,80). He makes his first start since taking a 115-mph line drive off his face on April 28 against Colorado. Bradley was pretty darn lucky he only suffered a small sinus fracture and not a major eye or head injury. Will he be a bit gun shy returning to the mound? Will he wear that crazy helmet/hat that's available to pitchers now? I sure would. Bradley has never faced the Phillies. Jerome Williams (2-3, 5.21) gets the call for Philly. He was pretty good in April with a 3.80 ERA in four starts but it's 7.53 in three May starts. Williams somehow hasn't faced Arizona in his nine-year career.
Key trends: The Phillies are 4-1 in Williams' past five at home. The under is 5-2 in Arizona's past seven on Saturday.
Early lean: Snakes and over.
Brewers at Mets (-144, 7)
More bad news for the terrible Brewers as they have lost shortstop Jean Segura to the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right pinky finger. Segura, 25, was hitting .262 with 14 runs scored, 12 RBIs and six steals in 33 games. Milwaukee hasn't had All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy for nearly a month as he's on the DL. Keep betting against this team. Matt Garza (2-4, 4.04) goes for the Brewers. He had his best outing last time out, allowing the Cubs a run and three hits over seven innings, striking out nine. Curtis Granderson is 7-for-27 with four doubles and a homer. New York's Jacob deGrom (3-4, 3.46) allowed four runs and five hits over five innings, tying his season low of innings, last time out against the Cubs. Carlos Gomez is 2-for-6 with an RBI off him.
Key trends: The Brewers are 1-5 in Garza's past six vs. the NL East. The Mets are 1-6 in deGrom's past seven vs. the NL Central. The over is 4-1 in deGrom's past five against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Mets at +160 on the runline and over.
White Sox at A's (-137, 7.5)
I thought the White Sox would contend for the AL Central title, and they still might. One position that concerned me (along with third) was second base. The team already has made a move there, demoting opening-day starter Micah Johnson and calling up Carlos Sanchez from Triple-A, and the job is his for now. Johnson was decent at the plate but not in the field. Sanchez is a good fielder and was hitting well in the minors; he barely lost out to Johnson this spring. The weak link of the Chicago rotation, lefty John Danks (1-2, 5.12), is on the mound here. He does come off a strong outing, allowing a run over seven innings against the Reds. Billy Butler has faced him more than any Oakland player, going 8-for-38 with two doubles, three RBIs and nine strikeouts. The A's go with Jesse Chavez, who is 1-3 with a 3.24 ERA as a starter (he had a couple of early relief appearances). Alexei Ramirez is 3-for-8 with a triple and two RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Sox are 1-7 in Danks' past eight on the road. The A's are 0-4 in Chavez's past four against teams with a losing record. The over is 7-2 in Danks' past nine against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: A's and over.
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